This is not the way to start off a new City administration. I don't have a problem with local business trying to make a buck in these difficult times, it's not an excuse for the City Administration ( Major Berry ) and the transit department (Bruce Rizziari ) not taking proper action to insure bus users have uninterupted service during a peak time of the day along one of if not the busiest transit corridors in the Albuquerque.
Yesterday afternoon, December 03, 2009, ABQRIDE began diverting buses between Girard and San Mateo along Central ( Routes 66, 16/8, 766, 777 ) well before the planned 4:00 PM start time in order to allow pedestrian free reign on Central beween Girard and Washington. Problem is ABQRIDE / The City did not post any signage at any of the bus stops along the route telling customers in advance there would be no bus service from the planned 4:00PM to 10:00 PM time period for the Nob Hill Stroll. No posters in the buses. Many people gathered at the San Mateo Westbound stop waiting for RapidRide and the local bus only to find the buses turning North Bound at San Mateo then West on Lomas and eventually routed to Morningside back to Central. Of course they missed those turning buses and a new batch gathered afterwards.
Local Route 66 passengers where stranded who needed to disembark along Central and found themselves having to walk, in some cases, three long blocks in the the chill just to get back to Central from Lomas. What of the handicapped and elderly passengers, some who do not qualify for the infamous paratransit system but are none the less ADA handicapped passengers and or elderly? Insistant calls were made to the ABQRIDE number ( which is handled by 311 for complaints ) with 311 operators not understanding the problem. ABQRIDE supervisors became aware of the problem only after complaints. There was some snafu because ABQRIDE supervisiors admitted there were no notices posted along the route. There was no ADA complaint transit vehicle to pick up stranded passengers along the route as late as 4:30PM. One supervisor told me that besides the problem with passenger diversion, the hook out to Lomas reaks havoc with the bus schedule during commuter time. It skews connection times with other routes as well, already a problem along the Central corridor.
What would be a reasonable solution? Divert the buses down Copper/Campus during these events and have temorary stops at the same places where stops exist along Central.This has been done in the distant past. ALL of ABQRIDE's new buses are ADA compliant with ramps and kneeling capability. If during one of these diversions 300 buses were not used on the Central route during the period, then all types of passengers could be accomodated. Some hands on traffic supervision at Campus and Carlisle could compensate for a the tight turn at that intersection Eastbound. Certainly having bus service to an event like this could be beneficial to the businesses rather than make it more difficult by taking the public three blocks away and disenfranchising handicapped and elderly passengers. It is wrong to assume that there are not local passengers ( even RapidRide to Carlisle ) along this portion of Central.
This whole scenerio was bad before the new adminstration, it reminds me of the Ann Watkins era when Mr. Rizzieri was put in charge after she departed under much controversy. Does this portend the future for ABQRIDE? What does it take to convince the City how important transit is for all citizens, a law suit? Since 2005 there have been close to 200 lawsuits against the City in Federal Court, most of them civil rights. It has been an upward trend. Will it continue?